Siena, home of the world’s oldest bank, has been left-wing terrain since the fall of Mussolini. But as Italy heads to the polls, the bank’s tribulations have bolstered a right-wing economist who plans to oust the finance minister and ditch the euro.
A week from Italy’s March 4 general election, the woes of a bank founded back in 1472 are high on the minds of voters in this picturesque town, nestled in the rolling hills of Tuscany. On paper, Siena is a safe seat for the ruling Democratic Party (PD), located at the heart of a “red” region that has voted communist for decades and is now governed by the centre-left. But many here are furious at the way politicians have run the city’s more than five-century-old bank into the ground.
That is why the Democratic Party has picked Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan, the man who engineered the state rescue of the Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), to stand for election here – and why the right-wing opposition is fielding a eurosceptic candidate who hopes to pinch Padoan’s seats in both parliament and government.
Siena’s crown jewel